MBA Programs

Building a Better B-School


Building a Better B-School

Photograph by Savas Keskiner/Getty Images

The Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT exam, wants students to get more value for their tuition dollars. So it’s calling for a revolution. In Disrupt or Be Disrupted: A Blueprint for Change in Management Education (Jossey-Bass, 2013), thought leaders weigh in on everything from curriculum to quality, offering suggestions for overhauling management education from the ground up. Here are three of the most compelling:

B-Schools Must Reconsider Their Brands

Business schools, which teach students how to create and maintain their “personal brand,” need to take some of their own medicine and do a better job of packaging their own brands, writes Michael Hay of London Business School. This will require some serious navel-gazing to answer the eternal questions, such as who does the school serve, what does it do, and where does it deliver programs? They have to be honest and make changes accordingly. Then they have to publicize these shifts to the world.

He suggests that B-schools reconsider some of their strategies and redefine who they are, starting with their constituents. “Schools need to target combinations of students, employers, and recruiters whose interests align and then design programs that meet their needs,” Hay writes. What this could mean for students is new and specialized programs that target niche groups.

Give Students a Chance to Breathe

The modern MBA student is a whirling dervish of activity: classes, cases, clubs, travel, recruiting, and more. But Daniel C. Feldman of University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business says the whirling must stop, or at least slow down. Instead of involving MBAs in every activity on campus, B-schools should focus on whether they are as engaged as they need to be. When it comes to extracurricular activities, he says, “less might mean more.” When schools inundate students with tons of clubs and guest speakers, they tend to surf from event to event without actually participating in anything. Rarely does one learn anything from being a passive participant, Feldman writes. What schools should do, he argues, is make sure the activities they are offering align with their values and the school’s mission. Students might have fewer options, but that should make it easier to pick the right ones.

Be More Realistic About the Job Hunt

The notion of the dream job is not realistic. Yet schools often promise just that. Feldman says this is setting everyone up for failure. Students would be more successful, he argues, if they searched for jobs that better matched their skill sets rather than their interests. Getting feedback from peers, supervisors, and subordinates from the students’ former employers is a great way to gauge their true strengths and weaknesses, he writes. Feldman suggests that career service offices can use Schein’s Career Anchor Survey, which was written specifically for MBA students and helps them identify the trade-offs they are willing to make among imperfect alternatives. The goal: managing expectations and helping students find real jobs that could kick-start the next chapter of their careers.

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Francesca_dimeglio
Di Meglio is a reporter for Businessweek.com in Fort Lee, N.J.

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